Keyairra Wright Becomes First SCOPE Student to Begin a Career in Education
by Joe Savrock (May 2008)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – This summer, when Keyairra Wright begins working with Teach for America shortly after graduating from Penn State, she'll be marking a landmark juncture for a signature College of Education program.
Wright becomes the first participant of the Summer College Opportunity Program in Education (SCOPE) to enter the education profession. SCOPE’s mission is to encourage high school teens from underrepresented groups to consider a career in teaching, counseling, special education, rehabilitation, or educational administration.
Six years ago, Wright was part of the original SCOPE cohort, a group of high school sophomores from various locations who came to Penn State to spend five summer weeks getting a taste of university life.
Wright recalls the day at her high school in the South Side of Bethlehem, Pa., when she first heard about SCOPE. “A counselor in my high school gave me the SCOPE application on the afternoon of the day before it was due. I am so grateful that my parents urged me to fill it out, even though I would only have until the next morning to send everything in.”
Wright enjoyed her five-week campus stay, and the experience had a profound effect on her aspirations. She and several other students from SCOPE 2002 eventually chose to enroll at Penn State.
“Without SCOPE—and Charleon Jeffries and Maria Schmidt—I would have probably never applied to Penn State or learned of all the other opportunities that have helped shape my passions today,” stated Wright.
Now, four years later, the first of the original SCOPE students are completing their academic careers. Of the three original SCOPE students who graduate this year from Penn State, Wright is the only one who is entering the education profession.
“I did not always want to go into the education field,” said Wright, “but I have always wanted to work in a field that would help yield social justice. Education as a career path was first of interest to me when I was in high school when the opportunity to participate in SCOPE came along.”
Wright’s degree, in African and African American Studies, is from the College of Liberal Arts. “My major relates to my upcoming position as a teacher because I have gained so much knowledge about the challenges my students face,” she said. “I believe that I am in a unique position to help my future elementary school students because I have lived through and been taught about the effect of low income levels, schools that are underfunded, and other inequalities that have caused the level of education for so many low-income and minority students to be less adequate than others.
“Having been a member of the SCOPE program and an African American Studies major, I know that inequality in education has consistently been pinpointed as the catalyst of more complex inequalities that plague our nation and world today,” continued Wright. “With both SCOPE and my major, I have a newly focused passion to help eradicate educational inequality for our nation's youth.”
Wright will be teaching in Jacksonville, Fla. Her Teach for America induction is scheduled for June 3, and her official training begins five days later. The training lasts until mid-July. Wright’s actual teaching assignment begins August 4 in Florida’s Duval County Public Schools (DCPS).
“As a teacher with the DCPS, I will work toward closing the achievement gap for my students, the school, and Jacksonville as a whole,” she said. “The school where I will be placed by Teach For America will be in a low-income area. My goal is to use an array of strategies that will better help my students increase their knowledge and performance on levels appropriate for their age and that are similar to that of students who are more privileged and come from more affluent communities.”